History of Coffee in Guatemala

Coffee is a relative newcomer to Guatemala, which first began growing coffee in the 1850's and 1860's when German settlers arrived in the region. But its history hasn't always been a pleasant one, with political unrest interfering with the quality of the coffee and the collective well-being of coffee farmers. Since 1929, Guatemala has been under several dictators who launched repressive campaigns against trade unions. Then, from 1962 until 1996, civil war wreaked havoc across the nation causing conflict, land disputes and distrust against the indigenous people, who also happen to represent the vast majority of coffee growers in Guatemala.

Today, there is a democracy in place in Guatemala and peace and prosperity is returning to the country, whose coffee is now considered the crème de la crème of Central American coffee. Guatemala was Central America's largest producer of coffee until 2011 when it was surpassed by Honduras. 

Characteristics of Guatamalan Coffee

Coffee grown in Guatemala is some of the best in the world, thanks to its diverse growing regions that have the altitude, soil and climate conditions to produce amazing quality coffee. Antigua is internationally renowned for its high quality coffees with full body, fine acidity and rich, lively aroma. Highland Huehuetenango, too, is amongst the best, with its unique climate making for a beautiful coffee with chocolate and caramel notes.

Interesting Facts and News Bites

  • Coffee came to Guatemala with German settlers around 1860. Today, many key exporters and growers remain strongly attached to their German ancestry.
  • The primary growing regions are Antigua, the Fraijanes Plateau, Rainforest Coban, Highland Huehuetenango, Atitlan, Volcan San Marcos and Oriente
  • Compared to other Latin American growing countries, most Guatemalan coffee growers have preserved more of the traditional typica and bourbon varieties of arabica which may explain why Guatemalan coffee tends to be superior. 
  • Guatemala is currently in the grips of a "coffee crisis" as the spread of coffee rust, a plant-killing fungus, has affected 70 percent of the nation's coffee crop (source: Huffington Post)


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